As I’ve been at pains to argue for a while now, the modern American conservative movement does not care—even a little bit—about the size of the budget deficit. For example, congressional Democrats have a procedural rule in place called “PAYGO” that makes it difficult to reduce revenue or increase expenditure without offsets. A movement that cared a lot about the deficit would be promising to alter this rule so as to reduce loopholes. A movement that cared some about the deficit would be promising to leave it in place.
But as Jon Chait observes, that’s not what the GOP is doing, instead they want to scrap PAYGO and “replace it with a different rule, Cutgo, which would require that new spending be offset with spending cuts.”
In other words, they want to make it easier to expand the deficit. And note that this doesn’t even particularly make it harder to expand the deficit through spending. It just means that your new spending program needs to be called a “refundable tax credit” and administered by the IRS. That means that new government subsidies for things are likely to be handed out in a relatively inefficient way, via the tax code, and the deficit is likely to get bigger. Now you can make the case for these priorities, but it would be nice if the press would wake up and notice what they are.